New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Butter and Ice Cream

Sunday was Veggie Pride Parade II. I wrote about this in 2008 - you can read about it here. I was a practicing vegetarian for decades and have experimented with numerous diets, so I am sympathetic to the cause. I was a raw foodist in the early 1970s, drinking gallons of carrot juice per week. I have a library of books on extreme dietary practices, many rarely encountered today: fruitarianism, macrobiotics, mucusless diets, liquidarianism, raw veganism and the ultimate in dietary deprivation - breatharianism (yes). 
I have a quote from chef Anthony Bourdain which I would like to share with you, which although quite extreme, does express the feelings of many non-vegetarians. For those of you who are vegetarians, I suggest you skip this section.

Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. 
To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. 
Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. 
Oh, I'll accommodate them, I'll rummage around for something to feed them, for a 'vegetarian plate', if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine. 
— Anthony Bourdain

I can't say I embrace this statement, however it does point out one problem with most vegetarian diets - they are driven primarily by health concerns, ethics, religious beliefs or animal rights, philosophies which involve deprivation and do not revolve around the palate. This is why ultimately, most do not stay with diets like veganism for very long. The vegan movement has become quite trendy in recent years - read my article here.
Food is one of the most important parts of any culture and any dietary practices that restrict one from partaking in those foods will, for most, become intolerable over time. Gradually, more taboo foods are introduced. Semi-vegetarian diets attempt to straddle both sides of the aisle with variations like lacto, ovo, lacto ovo, pollo, pesco-vegetarianism and flexitarianism. 
I have sat at many a dinner table or restaurant, only to nibble or eat side orders. A trip to France became, as one vegetarian observer put it, "avoiding the omelet." My diet now is more oriented towards health and less dogmatic.
The 2009 parade was not particularly large - I think at this point in time, the message falls on deaf ears. Most will not make the sacrifices to become vegetarian and many of the valuable contributions made by the vegetarian movement have been absorbed into mainstream culture. Large supermarkets now have an extensive line of natural food products - unthinkable 30 years ago. Successes like Whole Foods Market, the retailing natural foods international chain, demonstrate that peas have been given a chance but most still want butter and ice cream from time to time :)

About the Photo: There were some fun creative characters. Many important fruits and vegetables were represented: Join Our Bunch (banana costumes), Give Peas a Chance, Hail Seitan, Warning Hunters, Unicyclists Against Animal Abuse, Meatrix, Jolly Green Giant and a host of green.


naomid said...

That's funny. As a meat eater I'm sure I enjoy pounds and pounds of kale, bok choy, leeks, and cabbage and more each week without a nod to vegetarianism. Sounds like the parade isn't inclusive of those who simply love to gorge on greens?

alex said...

I'm a meat eater too, but without vegetables, eating would'n't be so exited !!!

A "Mumy homemade ratatouille" is a delicious dish that should never be missed...

Whatever, it's a funny parade you show us.


Suzanne said...

I believe the low attendance comes from holding the parade at the same time as AIDS Walk NY, as has happened twice in a row.

I imagine that many vegetarians with progressive beliefs may have chosen this once-a-year walk instead of a parade emphasizing what they do every day by eating.

I would say that was my reason!